I realize not everyone gets to enjoy the Christmas season at a slower pace—for many youth workers, the Christmas season is a giant snowball that builds and builds, eventually gaining insane speed and crashing into the New Year with a resounding thwack. But for me this year, we’re scaling way back for the holidays. We cancelled the Christmas Extravaganza, small group parties are happening on their own, a special speaker is doing the Christmas teaching and the big New Year’s dance never made it on the final winter calendar. So what to do with all of this newfound time, free from the endless barrage of emails, phone calls and events?
If your pace does slow down a bit, here are four places you may want to spend your Christmas downtime:
Spend time alone.
Finish the books you started two months ago and are still on chapter 2. Get away from the noise. Turn off your phone and escape for a day. Pray. Meditate, reflect, celebrate. Get a waffle cone and people watch.
Spend time with students.
Gather up the core students for a spontaneous night out. That one kid who comes on Sunday morning—ask a regular kid what his name is again then take him out for coffee. Think about that regular kid who needs a big challenge, the newbie who could use a connection and the hurting kid who could use a hug. Go after the people you haven’t had the time for this fall.
Spend time with volunteers.
Take a few volunteers out for a late-night movie, your treat. Surprise a small group leader at her office with a morning pastry. Invite some of your key leaders over for a casual dinner with your family.
Spend time with family.
Look your kids in the eye and have a genuine conversation with them. Enjoy the lights of the Christmas tree, just you, your significant other and some eggnog. Plan a “camping night” in front of the fireplace.